From 25 to 28 November Markus Löning, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, is visiting Togo. Before leaving he issued the following statement:
“I leave for Togo on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Girls and women frequently suffer violence, arbitrary treatment and cruelty. One particularly brutal example of such cruelty is female genital mutilation, which some 150 million girls and women worldwide have had to endure. This kind of genital mutilation is actually one of the grossest violations of the universal right to physical integrity.
In recent years Togo has campaigned against this practice with considerable success. Since 2008 it has been banned by law and now occurs only very rarely. This makes Togo a trailblazer in the region.
Togo is the venue of the third regional seminar on human rights organized by the Federal Foreign Office. With this new approach, we hope to learn how practical human rights work can be improved on the ground. We will have discussions with German embassy staff in West Africa and will also be exploring with human rights activists in the region how we can best support their work. Our agenda will include topics such as freedom of the press, protecting human rights defenders, responding to political upheavals and campaigning against female genital mutilation.”
During his visit to Togo Markus Löning will open a seminar organized by the Federal Foreign Office for German embassy staff based in West Africa as well as human rights defenders in the region. The gathering in Lomé is the third in a series of regional human rights seminars. Two previous seminars focusing on North Africa/Middle East and South America were held in November 2011 in Tunis and in December 2011 in Buenos Aires.
The seminar in Lomé will focus on the human rights situation in West Africa, regional networks of human rights defenders and how best to combat the practice of female genital mutilation.
Besides attending the human rights seminar, Markus Löning will have high level talks with government officials and opposition leaders as well as representatives of civil society.